The need for blood donations is always constant, but amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the need is critical. And while this year's blood drive will look a little different than years in the past, you can still help give the gift of life.
"Normally this is a fun, party-style event. I mean people bring their kids,” Kelly Isenor, external communications manager for the American Red Cross, said. “This isn't that we ask that if you have guests please leave them at home this year."
Blood donations are by appointment only. Masks will be worn by volunteers and donors, and everything from the waiting area to the canteen will be a safe, social distance, six feet apart.
And if you’re nervous about the idea of donating blood, just know that you couldn’t be in better hands.
"The Red Cross staff is already trained in infection control. That was the case long before we ever heard of this particular coronavirus,” Isenor said. “But we have also taken extra steps to make sure everything is as safe as it can possibly be."
Because while so much has been put on hold amid COVID-19, the need for blood never stops.
"Cancer patients don't stop needing blood and sickle cell patients don't stop needing blood. Hopefully there have been fewer car accidents and traumas but those don't stop either,” Isenor said.
Something Marcus Brown from Bolton knows all too well, having spent years of his life in and out of hospitals battling sickle cell disease before starting a blood transfusion treatment that changed his life.
And while he’ll always live with pain associated with sickle cell, he said, “I can have a pretty much a close to normal life because of blood donations.
“Look at me, I’m not in the hospital and if I didn’t get those donations I probably would be dealing with the hospital more and to all the warriors out there -- go out and donate. Thank you. I appreciate it and God bless you,” he said.
Donation centers include Dunkin Donuts Park, West Hartford Town Hall or the American Red Cross Donation Center in Farmington from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. or the Wallingford Elks Lodge from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Appointments are mandatory and they are filling up fast. And if you aren’t able to donate tomorrow, you can always visit www.redcrossblood.org and find a blood drive near you.